NFL Monday Night Football Preview/Prediction: Dolphins @ Bucs

Bucs QB Glennon v Dolphins on MNF

The Miami Dolphins (4-4) travel to Raymond James Stadium to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) to close out Week 10 on Monday Night Football. The Dolphins are desperate for a break from the Martin-Incognito Bullying Scandal, and the Bucs just want a win, any win, over anybody. They are the only team in the NFL that has not yet won a game this season.

In Tampa Bay, the record does not accurately reflect how well this team actually plays. It does not portray how truly talented these young men are collectively and individually. Last week Tampa gave the Seattle Seahawks (8-1) a serious scare (27-24 Seahawks), and it was not the first time the Bucs have come within reach of winning against a “better” team.

In the season opener, the New York Jets only beat them by a point (18-17). In week two, they came within 2 points of tying the New Orleans Saints (16-14), and in Week 4 they were within a field goal of the Arizona Cardinals (13-10).

So the Bucs’ issues are not rooted in scoring points, although their offense does need consistency. Rookie Mike Glennon has gotten better on each game he plays and over the last three, has thrown not one interception.  Glennon has completed 123 of 204 passes since he stepped up to take the starting spot in Week 4. In five starts he has only thrown three interceptions against 8 touchdowns. The last time Glennon threw a pick was against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6, a game in which he also threw 2 touchdowns.

Against the Seahawks, he completed 17 of 23 passes for 168 yards, only the second time since he started that he has been held under 200 yards passing.  He threw two touchdowns and was sacked three times for 25 yard loss. Despite all of that, he came out of the game with a QBR 123.1. Although he is not a “running” quarterback, he did rush four times for 13 yards.  Incidentally, Glennon played wide receiver in college, so he can run.

In fact, he throws better on the run than in the pocket.

QB Stats Completions/Attempts Yards Yards per Comp TD Int Sacks/Yards Lost QBR
Tannehill 175/289 1977 6.8 11 9 35/236 80.8
Glennon 123/204 1165 5.7 8 3 13/117 83.1

 

On the run or in the pocket, Glennon has begun the process of creating that perfect balance with a favored receiver. That wide receiver is Vincent Jackson. Jackson was kept under wraps by Seattle last week, catching only two passes for 11 yards, but he does not have to catch a ball to influence the opposing teams’ game play.  Like Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson, whether their respective passers target them or not, the defense must be prepared.

So the Dolphins must cover Jackson and cover him good. They also must pressure Glennon and look for opportunities to create turnovers. While the Bucs are at +2 turnover ratio, the Dolphins are at +0, and while it is not negative, it is not positive either. Glennon’s ball control must be tested and broken.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked more than any other quarterback in the league (35). Over the course of the past two weeks some of that blame has been speculatively laid at absent feet, but we will only look at the numbers.

Tannehill’s blind side has been shored up and Bryant McKinnie along with Nate Gardner have been put in charge of looking after their quarterback on the left.

Defensively, the Dolphins’ four man rush has been effective, creating temporary insanity for the Patriot’s Tom Brady. They cannot allow the opposing team to figure out what they’re up to and make adjustments. This has been the issue for Miami game after game. They come out doing well, and then lose their momentum in the second half.

Miami must keep on top of the Bucs’ young passer and his favorite targets. They have to insert enough variety into their defensive and offensive strategies to avoid becoming predictable.

And they absolutely must let go of the rumors and whatnot flying around about their missing left-side offensive linemen for at least 60 game-minutes.

With so much going on in the Dolphins’ camp, one would think they are bound to be far too distracted to begin to put up a decent battle tonight. In fact, the invasion of their teams’ sanctum may create greater cohesion,  making them even more focused on the business of playing football. Tampa came so close to winning last week, that it goes against the human tendency to root for the underdog to call the game against them, so we will not fight what comes naturally.

Despite the Dolphins’ freshly closed ranks and higher level of loyalty to each other, we will give this game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They made Seattle sweat bright green bullets last week and we believe they will do much to same to Miami this week. Miami cannot seem to close out a game, and nothing that has gone on over the last two weeks shows them any more capable of putting the bow on the box.

By Brandi Tasby

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Dolphins’ Stats

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